Prachanda to resign as Nepal prime minister this week

Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba is likely to become next prime minister as per a pact between the two parties last August.

world Updated: May 21, 2017 23:41 IST
Anil Giri
Anil Giri
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
Prachanda to resign,Sher Bahadur Deuba,Nepali Congress
Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, waves towards the media after he was elected Nepal's 24th prime minister in 26 years, in Kathmandu on August 3, 2016. (Reuters file)

Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘ Prachanda’ will step down as Nepal’s Prime Minister this week, paving the way for formation of a new government led by Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba as per a pact made last year.

Nepali Congress, the largest party in parliament and the CPN(Maoist Center), which Prachanda chairs, had reached a deal that he would step down once local elections are concluded.

Nepal has successfully held the first phase of elections on May 14 in three provinces and second phase is taking place on June 14. Deuba will hold the second round of local polls as per the understanding made last August.

The parliament is set to convene on Monday, Narayan Kaji Shrestha, a senior leader of the Maoist party, told HT, adding Prachanda will address the House and put in his papers by Wednesday.

NC and the Maoists together enjoy simple majority to form the next cabinet led by Deuba, a former three-time prime minister.

But main opposition CPN-UML is opposing the power transfer, citing the elections code of conduct.

“How come one election can be conducted by two PMs?” asked UML’s leader Subash Chandra Nembang , who twice chaired the Constituent Assembly.

“At a time when election commission does not allow to transfer even a clerk-level staff, how come we are going to change the government, prime minister and ministers?”

The poll body has not made its position public regarding the power transfer, but due to political reasons and to hold the local elections successfully, it cannot afford such high political risk, said a leader of Nepali Congress.

After he becomes the premier, Deuba will conduct the second phase of local polls as well as provincial and central elections.

In an interview to Kantipur Daily, Nepal’s largest selling vernacular newspaper on Sunday, Prachanda made it clear he is eager to step down and ready to hand over the premiership to Deuba.

“I had already assured Deuba I will step down once we are done with the first phase of elections. Otherwise, we were all set to hold all elections to the local levels on May 14 but due to some technical and political reasons we could not conduct it. So I am honest and going to hand over the premiership to Deuba,” Prachanda said in the interview.

The second phase of local elections is considered crucial in the backdrop of constitution amendment demanded by Madhes-based parties.

The biggest political challenge that Deuba will immediately face is to amend the constitution in order to address the demands of Madhesi parties and increase the numbers of local units as per the ratio of population.

Over 51% of the population lives in Tarai/Madhes region and Madhes-based parties are seeking larger pie of local units in Madhes as per proportional representation.

After Prachanda puts in his papers, the President shall call for formation of the new government on the basis of consensus or two-third majority for seven days or she may revise it for three days.

If chances of such government formation is slim, then the President shall call for formation of the government on the basis for majority votes where Deuba will stake his claim.

As per the agreement between two parties, Deuba is likely to become the prime minister by end of next week, with the support of Maoists.

First Published: May 21, 2017 20:50 IST